Their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators gave them two straight wins for the first time since mid-November.
Sunday's 4-3 overtime win had given the team a much-needed lift after three of their previous four games had ended with one-goal decisions not in their favor. But Tuesday's win had them feeling more on the right track. The Bruins never trailed in the game.
"It was good, I think it was good to see glimpses of how we know we can play and we know it’s still in here," Brad Marchand told reporters after netting a two-goal night, including the game-winner.
"I thought we had a really good first couple periods. We didn’t have the best third but we were able to still come out with the win and that’s what we need."
Marchand put the Bruins on the board 2:02 into the game with his first of the night, putting home a give-and-go with Patrice Bergeron off his slick release. Reilly Smith provided the screen in front.
The Predators tied it up 1-1 just over five minutes later, but the Bruins jumped back on top 2-1 at 9:43 into the first period.
David Krejci let a one-timer rip off a feed from Torey Krug on the power play for his first goal since returning from injury. It marked the first time the Bruins had scored power play goals in back-to-back games since November 6 and 10. Zdeno Chara caused the havoc in front of Nashville goalie Carter Hutton.
"You know what, I don’t remember the last time we had a power play time - it was nice to get one with Zee and Torey, they hit posts as well," said Krejci. "Nice to get some puck possession, we made some plays out there. Hopefully we’ll keep improving."
Calle Jarnkrok tied it up again 2-2 less than two minutes after Krejci's tally, when his shot from the left circle broke through Tuukka Rask. The Predators put up two goals on their first four shots of the game.
"The first period was good and there was no reason to be tied after that and I took a lot of blame for that," said Rask. "But we battled back and got rewarded."
Loui Eriksson scored to make it 3-2 at 5:53 into the second period. It was his fifth goal in his past eight games.
Chris Kelly started the play in the defensive zone, and then raced to the net hard with a strong middle drive, while Matt Bartkowski fled down the left wing, kicked a pass from his skate to his stick and fed Eriksson for the go-ahead.
"I’ve been feeling good," said Eriksson. "We’ve been creating chances. When you get on a roll you usually get on a good scoring streak and it keeps coming. It’s what I’m feeling right now. I have my confidence up, making plays and scoring goals. Hopefully I can continue doing that."
"I’m just trying to play my game and try to help the team as much as I can here."
Eriksson also put in the empty-netter to seal the 5-3 win. He now has nine goals and 21 points on the season.
"Right now, a lot of it has to do with confidence," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "I think he’s skating better. When you’re confident, a lot of things come easy to you; when you’re not, you’re skating out there sometimes you feel like you’ve got a piano on your back and your sluggish and everything else."
"But right now I think he’s feeling it. Like all players in this league when they get on a roll, they feel good about themselves and I think, to me, he’s showing the kind of player we’ve always thought he was. He’s scoring some goals, he’s making some plays, he’s killing penalties. He’s a guy that you can use in all kinds of situations, so right now I think we’re seeing some of his best hockey."
Bartkowski's rush to feed Eriksson also showed what he's capable of, when the situation allows for it in the game.
"The ice was just there more than usual, so I just took it as much as I could," said Bartkowski, who played his third straight game after being a healthy scratch for five games.
"I think you see his strengths come out," said Julien. "He showed that he was much better in that area. The focus sometimes and the mindset deciding that ‘I’m gonna do it,’ and I think when he puts his mind to it he’s very capable of it."
Marchand gave Boston a two-goal insurance at 10:51 into the second period, roofing his second of the night and team-leading 10th of the season. After good movement in the offensive zone, Kevan Miller sent the puck towards the net with Bergeron redirecting it to Marchand on the doorstep.
"We always talk about Brad when he shoots pucks, he’s aggressive on the puck and strong on it, he’s a good player," Julien said. "[Tuesday night] was another one of those nights where he seemed to feel it. His first goal, I don’t think too many goaltenders would have stopped that, it was a quick release, quick, hard shot. He scored an important goal for us, it’s important to get that early lead."
His first was important, with his second serving as the eventual game-winner.
The Bruins weathered the Predators' storm in the third period. Taylor Beck made it a one-goal game 6:48 in, converting on a broken play.
Boston had a four-minute power play before Nashville pulled within one. They generated zone time and hit two posts, but couldn't convert. The Preds outshot the Bruins 15-10 in the final frame.
"I think we all know that if we’re going to climb back in the standings, we need to all play our game and we’ve got to do what we're here [to do], what we’re getting paid to do," said Marchand, who produced one the Bruins' best chances amidst Nashville's strong push in the third.
"And we’ve got to produce. Guys who kill penalties have got to kill penalties and power play’s got to score and D have got to make good passes. We all know what we have to do, and if we all play our roles the way we’re supposed to then we’re a good team. We know that."
"We have been in the past, so it’s good to see that everybody is stepping up right now and we did come into the break on a good note and hopefully we can continue that going into the new year."
"As far as team goes, I think today a lot of good examples of how our offense works," Rask observed.
The Bruins had that about 10-minute stretch in the third where they were pushed back on their heels, but for the most part, played with purpose.
With 35 games gone in the season, and 39 points, the Bruins are still straddling the line of being in a playoff position.
"We’ve been through a lot this year already," said Miller. "I think a little adversity can be good for the team in the long run. Were battling right now we’ve been through injuries, and call-ups, and a number of things. Hopefully we can put all of that together and be good to go for the next 47 games."
The Bruins earned some relaxation time the next three days with family, as the League-wide Christmas break kicks goes through December 26.
"You know, we can relax and have a nice couple days, but, if we want to be in the race for the playoffs we have to put some wins together," said Krejci. "Lots of teams can win one game and then they lose, or two games and they lose one. Somehow we have to find a way to put some wins together and that’s how we're going to catch the other teams."
"Any win is good but I think this was needed," Eriksson said. "Mentally, for ourselves, and then for after the break, to start something, get something going."